A couple weeks ago, my best friend sent me a text saying she had taken a bunch of pills. She didn’t know what to do. She was scared and alone, and I couldn’t be there. It was devastating to read her messages and feel like there was little I could do to help her.
It was a hard week for both of us. She went to the hospital and was admitted to a psychiatric ward while I was back at school, wondering how she was. They took her phone, so I stopped hearing from her that night.
I have never been in a spot where I felt so overcome by depression and anxiety that ending everything seemed like a better option than continuing on, but it was painful knowing that someone I cared about was.
The first piece of advice I have for those with a suicidal loved one is: it’s okay to not be okay. Although your friend is the one who is going through the suicidal thoughts, the distress that this causes you is valid. It’s a tough thing to go through and talking about it helps.
Second, the best thing you can do is listen. If you are the friend of someone who is having suicidal thoughts or attempts and you know this about them, you’re already doing a pretty good job of this. Being a trustworthy listener is sometimes what your friend needs, and it keeps someone closely informed about what’s going on in their head in case the situation gets intense.
My last piece of advice is know when to reach out. I was so worried about what my friend would think when I called my mom to talk to her mom about her attempt. I was worried she wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore and that I would lose my closest friend. I think that easily could’ve been the case, but I lucked out. The question I asked myself when making the call was, “Would I rather lose my friend now or lose her permanently?” That makes reaching out easy.
My best friend is doing much better now. She’s going to therapy, she’s finishing the semester and she seems good. Happy, maybe. I’m just glad she’s okay.
If you or someone you know is suffering from severe depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, contact the OSU Counseling Center [(614) 292-5766] or call the Suicide Hotline (text CONNECT to 741741).
– Lizz Birkhoff